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Today I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker at Dr. Yong-In Shin’s Emerging Technology class at the University Of Utah’s College Of Engineering. They asked me to share my insights on being an entrepreneur. Here’s what I discussed:

1. Do what you love to do and what comes naturally to you.  You won’t be successful if you don’t have the natural drive and passion that comes from doing what you love to do.
2. Surround yourself with people that compliment your abilities and share a common vision.  Many entrepreneurs fail because they think they can do it all themselves.  This may get you part of the way to your vision, but I can tell you it won’t get you all the way.  Work hard with your partners to build and nurture a clear and common vision. When everyone is focused on the same vision, the obstacles melt away.
3. Discover your strengths and build those strengths. Tiger Woods doesn’t work on improving his bowling.  Work to constantly build your game.
4. The road to your success is different than you think it will be.  When I started Gentner Communications, we provided engineering services to radio stations in Utah. Now, Listen Technologies provides wireless listening products to organizations worldwide.  I would have never dreamed the road I took would lead me to the place I am now.
5. It’s a get-rich-slow-scheme.  If you think you’re going to get rich quickly, you’re most likely doomed to failure. You have to “chip” away at success. Don’t be tempted to take the path that seems easiest.
6. Relationships are not important, they’re CRITICAL.  The relationships you have with virtually everyone that connects to your business will make or break you.  If you don’t build an organizational culture rooted in nurturing relationships you may not have the success you were striving for.  If your personal strength is not rooted in building relationships, your organization can still do this (see point 2 above).
7. It’s not JUST about the products or service you provide, it’s the total experience you provide to ALL your stakeholders. Consider what Apple does for its stakeholders.  Yes, their products/technologies are important, but they’re only one part of the experience that Apple provides.  At Listen Technologies, our stated core purpose is to “connect people to positive experiences.”
8. Sign up for millionaire insurance.  Ensure you become a millionaire by doing the most simple, risk-free thing possible:  invest the maximum amount allowed by law in your 401(k) for the lifetime of your employment and never deviate. If you do this, I guarantee you’ll become a multi-millionaire (assuming you begin before you are 30 years old).  This is the by far the number one most important personal financial thing you can do to make sure you and your family are secure for your lifetime.  What does this have to do with being an entrepreneur?  By signing up for millionaire insurance, you have the peace of mind to build your business and the risk of failure will become a positive thing – see the last point.

9. Failures are the building blocks to success.  I personally have never considered systemic failure as an option.  I always knew our business would be successful But, the truth is that there have been many failures along the way. These failures are the building blocks that lead us down the path of success.  Not only should you not be afraid of failure, you should embrace failure.

If you’re an entrepreneur what insights do you have to share?

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